Research projects

A self-management therapy treatment package for people with bipolar-affective disorder

Principal Researchers

Prof. David Castle, Prof. Michael Berk, Monica Gilbert, Lesley Berk, Neil Cole

Institution

Collaborative Therapy Unit

Mental Health Research Institute

Funding

$200,000

Award Type

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year

2007

Project brief

This project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a Collaborative Therapy self-management package for people with bipolar disorder.  The project is conducted in three phases: 

  • Phase one - needs analysis and development of intervention; 
  • Phase two – randomised control trial;
  • Phase three – follow-up and data analysis

This report describes the outcomes of phase one of the project which involved:

  • A literature review to establish what psychosocial interventions have been proven to be effective for people with bipolar disorder.
  • A series of Focus Group used to identify barriers to participation for consumers and problems associated with service system communication.
  • The development of a draft version of the self-management package which will be piloted to refine any issues with implementation of phase two of the project. 

Key Findings/Outcomes

A comprehensive literature review has been completed to establish what psycho-social interventions have been shown to be most effective.  This material has been utilised to design the intervention manual.

A number of focus groups were held with consumers (3), carers (2), and service providers (5) to explore issues associated with bipolar disorder.  Key issues included:  education and understanding of bipolar disorder, difficulty in assessing mood and recognising/managing early warning signs, stress management, medication issues, stigma and impact of bipolar disorder on everyday functioning.  A number of systemic issues were also identified such as the importance of obtaining a correct diagnosis, establishing a good relationship with one’s doctor and lack of continuity of care especially psycho-social rehabilitation.

The self-management package was developed incorporating a group-based intervention, information book, personal workbook and collaborative treatment journal.  This program was piloted with 6 outpatients who endorsed the group program as a helpful way of learning about their illness in a supportive environment.

Implications for policy and practice

Phase one of the project has identified the needs and gaps in treatment of people with bipolar disorder from a range of perspectives. 

  • Highlighted the need for access to psychosocial programs to complement pharmacological interventions. 
  • Greater G.P. training
  • Potential case management model

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